I hate to break it to you, but spot reduction or the idea that you can tone specific body part is a myth perpetuated by pop culture taking over the fitness industry. It sounds cooler than what the science actually says. Stop believing the hype, and start training smarter. Learn how below!
Do these sound familiar?
"Tighten up your waistline with these 5 exercises."
"The secret moves that will melt your muffin top."
"Get tank top arms with these 5 moves."
....it goes on and on and on....
Seeing posts like these show up in my news feed drives me nuts.
It’s setting us all back.
It seems like all marketing toward women is about “spot reduction” & “toning” a specific body part.
It’s all perpetuating a MYTH and feeding into what you want or what you think you are supposed to want (not what you need!).
You want to tone your inner thighs or that spot in the back of your arms or your tummy and there are thousands of workouts available online tell you it’s possible if you work just those muscles out just the right way.
Truth is these are the exact WRONG things to do. Working small areas burns only a small amount of calories. The “softness” you are trying to get rid of is fat. Ultimately a calorie deficit is necessary to burn more calories. Of course, building muscle gives you that “toned” look but you can do it a lot more effectively.
So what should you do?
When it comes to training your muscles you should:
The efficient, effective workout formula
To accomplish this more effectively, concentrate on larger movements that incorporate multiple muscle groups. That way you can build lean muscle while burning more calories. Bonus: these movements are more functional movements (exercises that have you moving in ways your body is designed to move).
Additionally, the muscles in your body all work together. Training them in isolation can be dangerous. If a movement pattern is missing in a workout, you are failing to train your entire body. If a pattern is consistently missing from your workouts, you are setting yourself up for muscle imbalances and inevitably injury.
As outlined in my Perfect Workout Week Masterclass, these movements fall into 8 categories plus core (more on core below): horizontal push, vertical push, horizontal pull, vertical pull, quad dominant, hamstring dominant, hip dominant and glute dominant. In order to efficiently and effectively workout your whole body, you must include movements from all the categories.
Ok, so how?
Focusing on movement patterns kills two birds with one stone (aka. is the most efficient way).
Below is a list of my 8 go-to moves/move categories that both ensure I am effectively training my whole body AND focusing on the more efficient compound movements. Sometimes I do variations on these basic movements, sometimes all in one workout, sometimes spread out between two or three different workouts. Either way, these 8 exercise patterns are the foundation of all good workout plans.
Horizontal Push - Chest press (or pushups): works chest, some shoulders and triceps
Vertical Push - Overhead press: works shoulders and triceps
Horizontal Pull - Rows: works back and biceps
Vertical Pull - Pull ups (or Lat pulldowns): works lats and biceps
Quad Dominant - Squats: works quads and glutes
Hamstring Dominant - Dead Lifts- works hamstrings and Glutes
Hip Dominant - Lateral band walk, hip abductors or adductors
Glute Dominant - Hip thrusts or bridges
Note above that you get plenty of triceps and biceps in with the compound movements. Therefore, working those muscles independently is not necessary for general fitness goals.
What about abs?
If you are effectively engaging your core in all of the exercises listed above, you will be getting a lot of core work in during the WHOLE workouts (and protecting your back and the rest of your body from injury). You don’t need to do a ton of “abs” on top of that… focus on the core!
A strong core (if done right) is important for so many things:
Protects your back (and the majority of your body from injury)
It provides an effective connection between the top/bottom and front/back of your body.
Rebuilds a strong pelvic floor (you know, so you don’t have to cross your legs when you sneeze).
I talk more about the core HERE